As a writer, your job seems to be simple: write stuff and people read it. But it’s the constant, daily struggle that’s difficult – figuring out the sweet spot between writing what you want to write and writing what actually sells. Sometimes, those are the same thing, other times, not so much. A lot of times, it depends on the market that year: what genres and topics are popular right now and what people are talking about. But most importantly, you need to know what you want out of writing. If you’re in it for the money, then all the power to you, the answers are on the bestseller list. If you’re writing because you love the craft but you also want to be able to eat, then either make a compromise or try to find the happy medium. More than likely, there will be a group of readers out there that will want to read your writing. The catch is do you care about how big that group is or is the fact that they exist at all enough for you? Check out what novelist Chuck Wendig says about this on his blog, Terribleminds.
Envy. It’s one of the seven deadly sins. It’s said to turn us into “green monsters”. There are thousands of articles online and in self help books telling us how to let go of it, get rid of it, or rise above it.
To be concise: It’s got a bad reputation.
But, as always, it comes with a silver lining. Envy can be a strong motivating force, for both good and bad. And, as Pahrul Sehgal points out in her TED talk, it can be a force of innovation. Getting from point A (what someone else has) to point B (having it) can take some creativity, and envy is just the motivation for that creative thinking.
Envy is also an act of storytelling. We tell ourselves all about what someone else has, why they have it, and what it all means to us. This, the creativity and the narrative, may be why literature is obsessed with envy. Sehgal even argues that without envy, we might lose literature all together: “No faithless Helen, no Odyssey; no jealous king, no Arabian Nights. No Shakespeare. There goes high school reading lists because we’re losing the Sound and the Fury, we’re losing Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises, we’re losing Madame Bovary, Anna K. No jealousy, no Proust.”
So while envy may bring out the worst in us (as Sehgal acknowledges) maybe there is something to learn from it. Instead of trying to beat the envy out of ourselves, maybe we can leverage it into something more.
“We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better.”
“In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”
Whether you believe in 10,000 bad drawings, 11 lifetimes, or 10,000 hours, it’s commonly agreed: Practice makes perfect.
750words.com seeks to make practice even better. The premise is simply. You go online, write 750 words, and the website keeps track of whether you do it or not. It keeps track of your running streak, and it assigns points.
Simple. But apparently very effective, according to the Wall of Awesomeness on 750words’ website. The Wall of Awesomeness keeps track of the people who take and successfully complete the 1 month challenge. The 1 month challenge is exactly what you’d imagine, of course – write 750 words every day for a month. If you’re struggling to stay motivated, or if you’re planning on a “write every day” style New Years resolution, 750words.com might be worth a shot.
All you need to do is serve the pudding before sprouts, remember that similar birds fly conjointly, and try not to be afraid of nizzards and glikkers. Yes, yes, Dr. Seuss tends not to make sense at times, but he always reveals the moral of the story at the end though. He knew how to captivate even the most unruly of audiences – his writing had the power to make kids sit down and listen. The most important lesson to learn from Dr. Seuss is to first give the readers what they really want before you unload all the detailed important stuff. You need to paint the picture before you try to haggle the price. Lure people in with verbs and active language, then slowly work in the point of your content. This is what Copyblogger tries to drive home: If you can create like Dr. Seuss, you can make it like Dr. Seuss. Okay, I really just wanted to make something rhyme… how about this:
He rhymes, he writes, he sets kids right; you read, you need, click here with speed.